Egyptian man, Egyptian woman, Egyptian couple, camels
By:
Mabel Fatokun

Looking To Be Heard In Egypt? Then Speak like Them😉

Egypt

  • 113,937,172
  • 1,002,450 km2 (387,050 sq mi)
Egypt

Egyptians speak various dialects, with Egyptian Colloquial Arabic or Masri being the predominant vernacular language. Literary Arabic is the official and most widely written language, while Egyptian Copts primarily use the Coptic language, which is the liturgical language of Coptic Christianity.

Owing to the impact of Egyptian music and film on the Arabic-speaking world, Egyptian Arabic— based on the Cairo dialect—is the most commonly understood first dialect in the Middle East and North Africa. It is also occasionally written in the Arabic chat alphabet or Arabic script.

However, Saidi Arabic is the primary language spoken in southern Egypt. Other languages spoken include Beja, Siwi Berber, Nubian languages (Nobiin and Kenuzi), and Saidi Arabic. Nubian language speakers live in the Upper Nile Valley and the Siwa oasis.

In Egypt, around six million people studied French from 2009-2010, increasing to eight million in 2013. French became the dominant foreign language in Egypt by the end of the 19th century, particularly in Cairo. During Ibrahim Pasha’s rule, French became the primary foreign language in media and civil courts. Despite British efforts, English was never adopted as the language of the Egyptian civil courts. French’s role in Egypt declined in the 1920s due to social and political reasons.

The British ruled Egypt until 1952, teaching English at schools in the area. English and French are taught in schools, and communication varies based on socioeconomic status. Those who speak English and travel to Egypt may not have difficulty communicating.

English is generally spoken in Egypt without issues, but knowing some local expressions for holiday use is beneficial, as most people can communicate without problems.

Communication Essentials

  • Yes/No →  naam/laa
  • Thank you → shokran
  • You’re welcome → tasharafna
  • Please → (asking for min fadlak something)
  • Please → (offering) tafadal
  • Good morning → sabaah al-khayr
  • Good afternoon → as-salaam alaykum
  • Good evening → masa’ al-khayr
  • Goodbye → maa as-salaamah
  • Excuse me, please → min fadlak, law samaht
  • Today → al-yawm
  • Yesterday → al-ams
  • Tomorrow → ghadan
  • This morning → haza as-sabaah
  • This afternoon → al-yawm baad az-zohr
  • This evening → haza al-masa’
  • Here → hona
  • There → honaak
  • What? → maza?
  • When? → mata?
  • Where? → ayn?

Useful Words and Phrases

  • I don’t understand → la afham
  • Do you speak → hal tatakalam
  • English/French? → engleezee/faransee?
  • I don’t know → la aaref
  • Please speak more slowly → men fadlak tahadath bebote’
  • My name is… → esmee…
  • How do you do, → kayf haalak,
  • Pleased to meet you → tasharafna bemearefatak
  • How are you? → kayf haalak?
  • Sorry! → aasef
  • God (Allah) willing → enshaallah
  • Can you help me, please? → min fadlak, momken tosaaednee?
  • Can you tell me…? → men fadlak qol lee?
  • I would like…. → oreed…
  • Is there…here? → yugad…hona?
  • Where can I get…? → ayn ajed…?
  • How much is it? → kam thaman haza (m) hazeehee (f)
  • What time is it? → as-saah kam
  • I must go now → labod an azhab al-a’n
  • Do you take credit cards? →hal taqbal Visa
  • Where is the toilet? → ayn ajed al-hamam?
  • Go away! (for children only) → emshee!
  • Excellent! → momtaaz!
  • Left → yasaar
  • Right → yameen
  • Up →fawq
  • Down → asfal

Staying in a Hotel

  • Have you got any vacancies? → hal yoogad ghoraf khaaleeyah?
  • I have a reservation → andee hajz
  • I’d like a room with → oreed ghorfah bea
  • Bathroom → hammam
  • Hotel → fondoq
  • Air-conditioning → takyeef
  • Double room → ghorfa mozdawajah
  • Single room → ghorfa be-sareer waahed
  • Shower → dosh
  • Toilet →towaaleet
  • Toilet paper → waraq towaleet
  • Key → meftaah
  • Lift/elevator → mesad
  • Breakfast → fooor
  • Restaurant → matam
  • Bill → faatoorah

Shopping

  • I’d like… → oreed…
  • Do you have…? → hal andak…?
  • How much is this? → be-kam haza?
  • I’ll give you… → ha aateek…
  • Where do I pay? → ayn adfaa?
  • To buy → yashtaree
  • To go shopping → yatasawwaq

Sightseeing

  • Mosque → jaamea
  • Street, road → shaarea
  • House → bayt
  • Square → midan
  • Beach → shaatee’
  • Museum → mathaf
  • Church → kaneesah
  • Castle palace → qasr

In an Emergency

  • Help! → an-najdah!
  • Stop! → qeff!
  • I want to go to a doctor →  oreed al zehab lel tabeeb
  • I want to go to a pharmacist →  oreed al zehab lel saydaliya
  • Where is the nearest telephone?  →  ayn yoogad aqrab telifoon?
  • Where is the hospital? →  ayn toogad al mostashfa?

The most interesting part of transactions in Egypt is the fact that hearing impairments wouldn’t stop the flow of Communication. Egyptian Sign Language has gained prominence as the only sign language in Egypt, it is used in Alexandria and Cairo, with regional variation reported but not documented.

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